6 Best Museums in Helena, Montana (2023)
The Capital city of Montana, Helena, never disappoints a museum enthusiast. This incredible capital introduces visitors to its history, art, and treasure through a few worthy museums, galleries, historic buildings, and landmarks. No matter what time of the year you plan to visit Helena, these structures always welcome you with the highest appeal and enthusiasm. Of course, Helena is much more than its museums, but these landmarks aren’t necessarily the ones you would want to miss.
Though there isn’t any better time to visit Helena for museum enthusiasts, but we definitely recommend checking the museum calendar. Especially if your purpose is to seek any special exhibition, or attend any event, do check the official websites of museums before booking your trip. Or, if you are Helena local, you have to reach and explore these wonderful museum spaces every day. Discussed enough, now let’s jump straight into finding the most popular Helena Museums. Quick, Join Us.
6 Best Museums in Helena, Montana
1. Montana State Capitol
The Montana State Capitol isn’t just a standout symbol of Helena but Montana itself. What surrounds this working capital are the stately neighbourhood buildings and manicured hillsides, adding into making it a postcard picture. On top of the capitol’s dome firmly stands the famous Lady Liberty. Both the large copper dome and the statue add to the extra presence of the capitol building, especially in the minds of observers. Besides that, Greek architecture adds more hours of observation, though what is prominent lies inside, especially within the interiors. Upon walking inside, you can see four circular paintings depicting the four prominent archetypes of society in early Montana. With that, there are pictures of Native Americans, Gold miners, Fur trappers and more. Other points of interest include the Capitol Library and the Old Law Library.
2. Holter Museum of Art
The finest art museum in Montana and one of the must-visit museums in Helena, the Holter Museum of Art, is simply charming. Located in the bustling streets of downtown Helena Holter host regional, national and international art exhibitions. Their permanent collection includes contemporary Montana art within themes like cultural diversity, winter, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith (Artist) etc. You will find everything from photos, pictures, paintings, sculptures, and artefacts. However, the highlight of Holter is those rotational exhibits and events that happen throughout the year. There is so much to explore that individuals go back with a different experience for all new visits. Besides that, the art therapies, holistic healing programs, fall art walks, trivia nights, and other such events keep the crowd captivated.
3. Original Governor’s Mansion
The Original Governor’s Mansion isn’t dedicatedly a museum but would definitely interest a museum enthusiast. Located close to the Holter Museum, it is an elegant and refined original mansion that served as home to the governors for over 50 years. About Nine Montana governors and their families have spent years in this beautiful Queen Anne Style building. However, this red radiant building was initially built by entrepreneur William Chessman (1888) simply to show off his wealth and power. Later (1913), the State of Montana acquired the building and used it to house its governors. Today, the Montana Historical Society owns and operates the building and is open for exploration. One can visit here for guided tours from May through September for a very minimal fee ($1 for kids and $4 for adults). From antiques to period style, furnishing, decoration, and other authentic elements are still to be seen inside.
4. Historical Society Museum
The Historical Society Museum is right adjacent to the Montana State Capitol in Helena. The museum basically preserves, interprets and collects several archaeological, ethnological, and historical artefacts of the region. Upon exploring the building from inside, you can find over 50,000 artworks, artefacts, historical finds, archaeological finds, Native American collections and whatnot. In terms of ethnographic objects, there is a vast, dedicated display holding thousands of elements to observe. Though the museum is home to multiple galleries, their highlight is Charles M. Russell Gallery. Even if you are short on time, do take out some time to observe and explore it. With that, the collection of early immigrants’ costumes and textiles and history and daily lives of the region’s indigenous populations too is notable on its own.
5. Archie Bray Foundation for the Ceramic Arts
Located 3 miles from downtown Helena, the Archie Bray Foundation is a must-visit for all Ceramic Art lovers. The place is dedicated to the enrichment of the ceramic arts. It was founded in 1951, and for the next 60 years, ceramic artists from all around the world visited here to make new artwork, learn from fellow artists, and explore ideas. Today, the foundation offers public classes where visitors of all ages can attend and learn the art of ceramics. These 26 acres Archie Bray Foundation grounds display past residents’ site-specific sculpture and artwork and offer self-guided tours for the same. Visitors can also attend sales galleries, rotation exhibits, retail ceramic businesses, kiln facilities and seasonal artist studios. Once you are done with exploring the usual Helena Museums, this place full of artistry, inspiration and discovery awaits your attention.
6. Spokane Bar Sapphire and Gold Fever Rock Shop
Located on the northeast side of Helena, the Spokane Bar Sapphire and Gold Fever Rock Shop are impressive. It is basically a premier Sapphire mine on the banks of Lake Hauser. It is open for the public to visit and dig through the gravels to find their own Sapphire. While Green and Blue Sapphires are the most common finds here, you may also get gems of several different colours. Enthusiasts often look for Garnets and Gold, especially the Red Sapphire, which is also the most prized one. Some days you may find nothing of value but other days, you may earn a precious gem back. A man from Idaho found a 155 carats largest known Sapphire here. Some other uncommon finds here include diamonds, ruby, citrine and topaz. If not for digging and finding, you can also come here for exploring the site. For any gem lover, it is definitely a must-visit place.
Other Popular Museums To Visit In Helena, Montana
The Mountain Sage Fine Art Gallery:
Though small, Mountain Sage is a must-visit Gallery. It operates year-round and is home to the original artwork by local Montana artists. There is a lot to see, from moulded art pieces to oil paintings, rock mosaics, bronze sculptures, gold and silver jewellery, and fine wood art. The visiting hours here goes from 10 am to 5:30 pm.
The 1+1=1 GALLERY:
Another regional art gallery surely deserves a quick visit. It is owned by two friends (Helena Locals) who aim to provide a homely space for all art lovers. Upon walking inside, you will find wood sculpture, paintings, printmaking, ceramics, functional ceramics, artist-made jewellery, fine furniture, and mixed media art.